Meta descriptions are used by both searchers and search engines to get a better idea of what a page offers in terms of content, and this basic purpose hasn’t changed. However, there are some important changes in meta descriptions you should be aware of if you want to keep steering traffic to your content. Here’s what experts at Saba SEO, a leading SEO firm in San Diego County, have to say about meta descriptions in 2018.
Meta Descriptions Aren’t a Major Ranking Factor
In 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions and meta keywords aren’t a major ranking factor. However, these snippets can still affect CTRs (click-through rates), which can impact how your website’s pages rank. This means you’ll still want to put some time and effort into creating impactful descriptions.
Length Isn’t Limited to 155 Characters
The suggested length for meta descriptions used to be around 155 characters, and anything beyond that point would usually be cut off. Part of the reason for the change is Google’s tendency to pull descriptions from text to show as snippets on search engine results pages (SERPs). Observations of meta descriptions exceeding 155 characters were first made in the spring of 2015. Today, it’s common to see snippets that come close to 400 characters, suggesting Google is more concerned with providing useful information to searchers than worrying about character length.
There’s No Clear Upper Limit for Characters
An analysis of nearly 90,000 page-one organic results showed that the average character length for meta descriptions was 186. The average has been skewed by instances of 300-plus snippets. However, there are exceptions on the other of the scale as well. For instance, descriptions for videos tend to be much shorter. Another assessment of meta descriptions revealed that about two-thirds of them aren’t being cut off at 155 characters, which shows that Google allows for some exceptions. While there’s no widespread rule for a good character limit in 2018, some experts suggest it should be up to 300 characters.
Google Sometimes Makes Adjustments
Another thing to keep in mind with your meta descriptions in 2018 is that Google may choose to amend them. There have been increased instances of Google digging into a page’s content to pull out a little more info than what was provided in an original meta description. It appears this is done when Google determines an existing description isn’t descriptive enough. In some cases, a search engine will completely override a meta description entirely and create a “better” snippet. It’s important to keep the following tips in mind to write effective meta descriptions:
- Remove all non-alphanumeric characters to avoid unintended cut-offs
- Create unique meta descriptions for each webpage
- Use important and relevant keywords in your descriptions
- Create readable, compelling descriptions with humans in mind, not search engines
While the average length of meta descriptions is getting longer, avoid the temptation to fill your descriptions with unnecessary words. You should still to keep the searchers’ interests in mind. Most of the time, your meta description will determine if a searcher picks your link or one above or below it on SERPs.
For high-quality search engine optimization and content creation services, turn to Saba SEO. As a leading San Diego search engine optimization agency, we offer customized digital marketing solutions for businesses all around the globe. Our experts stay up to date with the latest changes in the field of SEO and offer tailored support. We work tirelessly to ensure your business gets the online ranking it truly deserves. To create a comprehensive SEO strategy for your business, give us a call at 858-951-1717 today.